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Student to Instructor Transition

CFI CFII Instructor Student

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#1 paulsone12

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 13:03

Greetings,
I just recently got my CFII and went on my first job interview for an instructor position at the school where I have done most of my training. It did not go well at all. The critique that I got from the DPE for both CFI and CFII were positive and I know that he is honest and fair.

The ground portion of my interview went well. I felt calm, organized and professional. However, as soon as we got to the aircraft for the flight portion, it was like I had forgotten how to teach and fly. I was flying with the cheif instructor with whom I had never flown with before and in a patter that I was unfamilliar with. He said that I was instructing well transitioning from the ramp to the taxiway(start up, taxi, air-taxi, quickstop, takeoff), then he flew the first pattern to show me where to turn (it is not a standard pattern). It was all down hill from there.

His critique about my teaching from then on was that I was not authoritative enough, as if everything I was saying was like I was asking him a question. For instance, in my head I was thinking "starting my descent by lowering collective with right pedal for trim, looking for about a 500fpm descent rate. I want to keep my spot between the compass and trim strings for a nice normal approach angle" apparently came out as "should I start my approach here and does this angle look good?" This uncertainty led to several mistakes including not hitting my spot, and probably the worst autorotations I have done since I was a student pilot.

Has anyone out there had a similar experience or maybe had a student display this type of student to instructor transition problem?

#2 TXFirefly

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 13:35

I would say the transition is difficult for everyone. Job interviews are like checkrides... you seldom do your best flying. I used to tell my students that if you talk through the maneuver, the DPE (check airman, or chief pilot) can at least see that you know the proper procedure, even if you don't execute it perfectly.

Keep your chin up, and get back in the air, just for fun. Then go through the maneuvers you feel you did poorly on. Put this interview behind you and focus on the next one. My .02.
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#3 Spike

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 13:58

Yes, students and applicants do things they normally wouldn’t do during check-ride and pre-employment rides. These unfortunate events are usually brought on by stress. However………

You say you did most of your training at this school but yet, the interview flight was the first time you flew with the CIP? Why is that? Plus, whatever the reason why you feel you did poorly, i.e. lack of confidence or "uncertainty", how can a flight school train you to CFII certification and not know these issues exist? Aren’t your shortcomings a direct result of their training?

Either way, go talk with the CP, CIP or owner and fess-up to a brain fart. Then politely ask for another chance…. And, it's a good idea to do that ASAP! Like NOW!

#4 kodoz

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 14:09

This is the case for scenario-based training methodology. A student who spends 200 hours flying around with an instructor telling him what to do, how to do it, and what he did wrong, results in a pilot who has no practice making decisions for himself when he's are out of his comfort zone and in the position of instructor, tour pilot, commercial pilot, etc. I know this because it's how I was taught, and this story could have been me. Making the transition from direction-taker to decision-maker was rough.


His critique about my teaching from then on was that I was not authoritative enough, as if everything I was saying was like I was asking him a question.


I also know the SBT topic has been thrashed already, but the benefit of the approach is to let the student play the role of the pilot they are aspiring to be. That gives them practice, both in making mistakes and in being in command of the flight. Under the current paradigm, you make the transition and get that confidence with a student sitting next to you when you get a job as a CFI. When your instructor is learning decision-making, it makes it hard for students to learn it during their training....

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#5 avbug

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:04

Perhaps you need to re-think the way you take that next checkride. When you take a checkride, don't think of it as taking a checkride.

Think of it as giving a checkride.

You're the pilot in command. It's your aircraft. Act accordingly.

Tailor your actions and behavior to the checkride. If the checkride is for a job, in this case for a position as a flight instructor, then act as an instructor. You're not being interviewed for your fine flying skills, but for your talking skills. Sure, you can probably fly the aircraft around the pattern, but can you talk it around the airplane at the same time? Recognize common errors and correct them? Be master of the aircraft from the other seat while talking through them? Notice the emphasis. When you took your commercial and private checkrides, you were being evaluated for your abilities as a pilot. When you test for or interview for a position as an instructor, you're being interviewed for your ability as a talker and for your ability to take full responsibility.

Take every opportunity you can to interview; no interview is wasted, because you learn more about yourself and your performance. Take notes. I like to go into interviews and treat it as though I'm the one doing the interview. This ought to be done tactfully, but approach it with the confidence not of a prospective hire, but of one who is doing the hiring. After all, you're evaluating the prospective employer during the hiring process too, aren't you? You're evaluating that person to see if they're worthy of your time, and if that's somewhere you want to work, just as they're interviewing you to see if you're worthy of hire. It's a two-way process.

Take every chance you can right now to practice your teaching. I made the offer this summer to a prospective instructor, to be his student. Several of us, in fact. Come teach us every day, present your lessons, and we'll talk about your strengths and weaknesses. Apparently he felt he didn't need any practice or preparation, and to each his own, but the smart money is on the person who over-prepares and who trains. Practice on family and friends. Video yourself giving a lesson, see how you look to others. It pays off.

Visit the Chief Pilot. If you're not in the running for the position, see what you can do about takign the ride again. Few things are set in stone. This may not be one of them. You'll never know until you try.

#6 Flying Pig

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:13

I know what you mean. When I did my CFI check ride for helos, I set the stage and asked the examiner "OK, who are you, whats your experience? Are you a day 1 lesson 1 or are you a commercial applicant? Are you a Private Pilot? Who are you for the purposes of the test" He told me, "I have 4 hours total, my instructor just left for the GOM and you were just assigned to me by the Chief Pilot. My biggest issue is listening while I fly and I cant hover to save my life"

I took a minute to "get into character". I actually excused myself, went to the bathroom. I told the examiner "When I walk out that door and come back, the show starts. If you need to talk to me as a DPE, you need to make sure you tell me or Im going to assume your a know it all student with an authority problem. If you say something like "let me show you something" I am going to take that as you being a 4 hr student telling me he's going to take the helicopter from me and demonstrate a maneuver. And that isnt going to happen in real life."
It actually worked pretty well for me mentally. We were doing pinnacle approaches, discussing some mountain techniques and at one point he actually said "OK, pause the test for a minute, let me show you something."

When I did my airplane CFI, I passed, but one of the critiques was that I allowed my "student" to take to much control of the plane and sorta' wander around. I actually interpreted that at the time as the DPE wanting to fly. We used the department airplane (which is pretty nice) so I was letting him fly it. He read that to mean I was letting my student control the lesson.

Maybe that helps.... but I viewed the CFI ride as a performance. Im not an actor or anything, but thats how I decided to do it.

Edited by Flying Pig, 04 October 2012 - 15:16.

  • Lindsey, Joe Blow, ridethisbike and 3 others like this

#7 eagle5

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:19

Job interviews suck! They can be worse than taking all five checkrides at once! Throw in an unfamiliar pattern/area and person and it just gets worse (although get used to that, because most interviews will be with a new person at an unfamiliar place)!

If they liked everything about you accept the flight, maybe they'll give you a second chance?,...after all, they did train you.

Don't sweat it Dude,...you're normal!

#8 eagle5

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 15:23

I know what you mean. When I did my CFI check ride for helos, I set the stage and asked the examiner "OK, who are you, whats your experience? Are you a day 1 lesson 1 or are you a commercial applicant? Are you a Private Pilot? Who are you for the purposes of the test" He told me, "I have 4 hours total, my instructor just left for the GOM and you were just assigned to me by the Chief Pilot. My biggest issue is listening while I fly and I cant hover to save my life"

I took a minute to "get into character". I actually excused myself, went to the bathroom. I told the examiner "When I walk out that door and come back, the show starts. If you need to talk to me as a DPE, you need to make sure you tell me or Im going to assume your a know it all student with an authority problem. If you say something like "let me show you something" I am going to take that as you being a 4 hr student telling me he's going to take the helicopter from me and demonstrate a maneuver. And that isnt going to happen in real life."
It actually worked pretty well for me mentally. We were doing pinnacle approaches, discussing some mountain techniques and at one point he actually said "OK, pause the test for a minute, let me show you something."


This should be taught to all CFI students as to how to handle checkrides and job interviews!,...I wish I had thought of it! :)

Edited by eagle5, 04 October 2012 - 15:25.


#9 ridethisbike

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 00:35

I know what you mean. When I did my CFI check ride for helos, I set the stage and asked the examiner "OK, who are you, whats your experience? Are you a day 1 lesson 1 or are you a commercial applicant? Are you a Private Pilot? Who are you for the purposes of the test" He told me, "I have 4 hours total, my instructor just left for the GOM and you were just assigned to me by the Chief Pilot. My biggest issue is listening while I fly and I cant hover to save my life"

I took a minute to "get into character". I actually excused myself, went to the bathroom. I told the examiner "When I walk out that door and come back, the show starts. If you need to talk to me as a DPE, you need to make sure you tell me or Im going to assume your a know it all student with an authority problem. If you say something like "let me show you something" I am going to take that as you being a 4 hr student telling me he's going to take the helicopter from me and demonstrate a maneuver. And that isnt going to happen in real life."
It actually worked pretty well for me mentally. We were doing pinnacle approaches, discussing some mountain techniques and at one point he actually said "OK, pause the test for a minute, let me show you something."

When I did my airplane CFI, I passed, but one of the critiques was that I allowed my "student" to take to much control of the plane and sorta' wander around. I actually interpreted that at the time as the DPE wanting to fly. We used the department airplane (which is pretty nice) so I was letting him fly it. He read that to mean I was letting my student control the lesson.

Maybe that helps.... but I viewed the CFI ride as a performance. Im not an actor or anything, but thats how I decided to do it.


I like this. I plan on putting that to use when the time comes.

I've also been told to not look at check rides as a check ride, but, rather, to look at it as an opportunity to show off my knowledge and skill. That bit of advice did help me during my check ride, as well as my stage checks during private.

#10 paulsone12

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 14:43

Thank you all for the helpful tips and feedback. I took a flight yesterday just for fun and spent most of the time teaching myself what I was doing, how I was doing it and why it needed to be done. It felt rediculous at first but was actually rewarding and beneficial. I flew today with an instructor and basicaclly started with Flying Pig's scenario. It really helped me stay "in character" assuming that the instructor knew nothing. I told him to save any questions or critiques for the end of the flight and that that any question he asked during the flight should be as new student pilot.

Thanks to a great suggestion from Spike, I went in person to talk to the chief and had a very productive conversation. We are scheduled to fly a few times in the next couple weeks finishing up just prior to another hiring round. I anticipate a more successful outcome this next interview.

Thanks again to all for the great discussion and feedback.

#11 paulsone12

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 22:40

My second interview went much better, I am now employed and my first student starts next week! It is such a great feeling. Thanks again to those who replied and hopefully someone can benefit from this short topic.
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#12 heligirl03

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 23:21

Hey, congrats, Mark!! I just read back through this thread and I am really happy to hear it! That you were able to learn, grow, and turn this around does not surprise me at all. Keep up the solid character, hope to see you down the road :D
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